I'm an 18 year old living on my own with no connections. I've got this business idea that I'm determined to make a reality, however, Seeing as I'm only 18 I have no experience and am a little overwhelmed trying to figure out what to do.
Ahhh, to be 18 and inspired with a great idea. I was there and it's very frustrating yet exhilarating at the same time. So, what I might have to say might seem harsh but "welcome to the school of hard knocks."
First off you need experience. You may have a great idea but you have no practical way of knowing it's value or potential. And a lack of experience is no excuse for not getting experience. The essence of experience is knowledge. It can be book knowledge or it can be sweat knowledge but you need it.
Now if you're smart and plan properly you can gain your knowledge while simultaneously making contacts and gaining allies. Focus on knowledge though and not getting everyone to love your idea. The best way to get people interested in your idea is for them to first be interested in you. Look at the stories of everyone else who, at your age or a little older, went on to be a success. They had creative, excited, driven and dedicated partners. And if they didn't then they dealt with it and kept moving forward.
Build a small team of people just like you and produce some tangible results that other people can see as having commercial potential. Then you might get this thing off the ground.
Lastly, be prepared to have your idea die because someone stole it (it sucks but unless you have millions you'll most likely not win), someone did it before you (this proves you're on the right track just behind the curve), or the market has no need for it anymore. If this is the only idea you'll ever have, and it doesn't work out, then you'll be miserable for the rest of your life, BUT if there are more great ideas in you then what you learn from this puts you closer to success in your next venture - and your next, and your next.....
Hi Ryan - sounds like you are headed in the right direction. The fact that you are here on this forum willing to ask for advice when you run into an obstacle is evidence that you have the right mindset.
To give you advice in regards to your question:
Regardless of what people say in this thread, the path you want to take is the one that is your own. Swim in the uncomfortable, ambiguous nature of not knowing what is "right" vs "wrong". Document this journey in which you are embarking. If you begin documenting you journey now, then you will begin to build an audience of people just like you trying to figure out the same thing. As you continue to learn more about how to carve out a place for yourself in the new economy, you will have accumulated a deep well of knowledge, curated research that you bookmark and categorize along the way, and friends/followers/influencers who attract to your authentic storytelling. To sum it all up, perhaps you have everything you need already.
First drafts are supposed to suck.
Just start, make a splash.
Reach out anytime.
Age is just a factor. However, when it comes to business, experience matters a lot but if you have a good understanding of what you are going to do, then it just doesn't matter. Consider the age factor as a plus point as you have got the energy and time to turn your plan into reality.
As I don't know about your business idea, I can't give you suggestions on that but yes I can give you some tips on how you can build connections!
Lastly, I would rather say, get on the path of execution, the more you will think about the age and other factors the more it will delay your path of learning. That's the best part of being an entrepreneur, even if you fail, you learn the most beautiful lessons of life.
So, there are a bunch of answers here, but I humbly think a lot of them are garbage (you don't need anyone to tell you you're young and have no experience, nor do you need anyone to sell you on something), so I'll add my two cents.
You're 18 - this means you have time. You have an idea that you're determined to make a reality - this means you have an opportunity to experiment, to learn, to fail or succeed. All of these things are good, really. From where you stand, you can't really lose.
Practically speaking, it's hard to give much guidance without knowing what kind of business it is that you want to start. What I can say, though, is that in today's world, most things can be started with little to no money. My general advice would be to simply do as much as you can on your own. It's never been easier to make a website, it's never been easier to get a product or service in front of people, and it's never been easier to network (meetups, reddit, linkedin, facebook, twitter, instagram, sites like this, etc. - reach out to people!)
Another general piece of advice I'd offer is don't be intimidated. If you find something difficult, just get used to the feeling, and keep pushing. So many people who have started businesses had no idea what they were doing. Try to think critically and as objectively as possible about the value your business is offering people. You don't have to have the perfect business model from the get go. In the end it's all about execution, but you also don't have to execute in a month. Take your time.
There have been both good and bad business ideas that have raised tons of money. There have been both good and bad business ideas pursued with next to no money. The most important thing right now is that you just start, any way that you can, with what you have.
Something you might want to consider is documenting what you're attempting - start a youtube channel, blog, whatever. It could help you refine your idea, and attract people who might be interested in what you're doing.
If you can start with an intense demand that is unmet, you have a far greater chance of success. 98% of idea-driven businesses fail.
Find work in a company in an industry related to your idea. Outperform and outlearn everyone. Save money, build alliances. Be patient and when you gain enough trust, start developing, in cooperation with your company or others.
Assemble a determined team of people with relevant skills other than yours who will believe in your dream with you and get going.
Perhaps a business plan as a start. It forces you to think through the details and won't cost you anything but time at first.
Hi Ryan, congrats
The first step is to adjust mind set. Your mind set is the most important asset going forward. why?
- you'll feel discouraged at times
- people will show no interest
- you'll be confused
- trial and error will require mental endurance
- you'll feel overwhelmed
- you'll feel like you have no source of guidance for direction
But the mindset will ensure no matter how tough times get, you persevere knowing this is your situation now, but each experience adds to your intuition of whats needed to make this product successful.
Once the need for mindset is realized:
- create three variations of your idea
- create elevator pitches for each version of the idea
- begin going to many startup events in your city, and practise your elevator pitches to each person that asks what you do
- take note of their reactions (are they confused, excited, not interested) and their associated questions
- each time you go through this process (after the event) gauge into possible reasons you received the reactions, then adjust the pitch and business idea. Also answer the questions and use the questions as methods of helping you to refine the business idea
- ask each person for their contact, and begin creating a database of contacts known as The List (purpose of The List: people to reach back out to further explain the refined business and gain more questions; for invites to demos; for referrals to developers, designers, etc; for advice; and at a later time for financing)
- with the refined idea variations, make notes on the critical assumptions that must be true in reality for the business not to fail
- with the refined ideas and assumptions, go out to areas where you target customer are likely to be, and again state the refined elevator pitches, and ask questions regarding the assumptions, take note on their responses and reactions
- ask them for their contacts and add to The List
- head back to the drawing board and refine the business variations, and adjusting for what you thought to be true, make new assumptions
- request meetings with seasoned entrepreneurs who have built out success startups which are similar to your startup, and ask for meetings to clarify your revenue model, ask them to The List
- continue this process repeatedly, which in itself builds up your intuition of the product need and direction, which of the variations are viable, and which are to be discarded, and a growing list of contacts that can be reached out to for any kind of need
- as this process of attending events continues, you'll naturally end up building relationships with other entrepreneurs in your city, and becoming really close to a few of them, where you can call and talk about problems that maybe they've been through
- as time progress you'll go from confused newbie to an entrepreneur with a social circle of other entrepreneurs and a strong intuition of your product and the customers it best relates with, as well as a growing list of customers to test the product as you begin coding it
this was a brief explanation on starting out, there's much more to it, if you have any questions feel to add me on FB, facebook.com/douglas.d.owusu, and shoot a message anytime, good luck!
Build a minimum viable product and test it - You need to be on market asap to get feedback and have an idea what of what your potential clients want - Don't spend ages on a business plan. Test, test and test !